Food Styling Challenge - On the Grill - July / by Carey

Perhaps you don't remember that back in January, I reluctantly decided to join in my Food Styling Challenge Group (now affectionally called The Inspired Plate).  It wasn't that I didn't want to do it - I so very much did - but I was already doing two other Creative Projects.  I was worried about time management, since I'm oh so effective at that (that is sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell).  Obviously, I took the plunge, and it has been so rewarding.  I'm so glad I did it, I'm so glad for what I've learned, and I'm terribly glad for the friendships I've made and continue to grow.

Yet, looming on that schedule was July and July's theme.  "Barbeque."

Shawn loves barbeque.  I could take it or leave it.  However, that is one thing that utterly turned my stomach when I was pregnant with Little Buddy.  That and turkey.  I remember walking into Texas Roadhouse one time, stifling the urge to spew, and telling Shawn I just couldn't do it.  Glad those days are over.  But alas, photographing barbeque, and barbeque that I prepared, wasn't something that excited me in the least.  I've utterly dreaded it.  I'd be taking one for the team here - participating like a good little girl, when on the inside, I wanted to stomp my foot and say NO! I don't wanna do barbeque!!! eww eww eww!!

Every month that darn "Barbeque" was looming.  Looming Looming Looming.  Once we got last month's post up, we began to discuss together what this month's challenge would be and what our plans were.  When suddenly I realized...  we had a regional definition issue going on.  Barbeque is pork meat with various sauces... in my North Carolina/Tennessee "growing up in the South" mind.  Most of the other ladies in my group, however, are not from the South.  And to them, "Barbeque" means something else altogether.

These particular lines in the following song by the hilarious Rhett and Link sum it up:

"People not from the South
think barbeque means Cookout
And that's something they're wrong about.
Barbeque is not a verb!
And Barbeque is not a grill.
Barbeque is meat
prepared in a very special way
which varies depending on where you go."

Please, please, pretty please take a moment to listen to this awesome song!!!

So joyously, I do not have to photograph pork barbecue with various sauces and make it look pretty.  What our lovely leader Laurie, from the state of California, meant by her usage of the word "Barbeque" was what I would call "On the Grill".  July's Food Styling theme is "On the Grill."  I wrestled much more with what to do for this one.  Lots of options.  We grill year round - most days o the week in the summer.  I love to grill.  I do 98% of the grilling myself.  But in the end, I decided to go with Grilled Cheese.

Can you believe it?  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.... on the grill!  I had never even considered it until one day I came from from running some errands to an excited Little Buddy whose Daddy had just made "the best grilled cheese in the whole entire world - zebra stripe grilled cheese."  That was a few years ago now and he still begs for his grilled cheese to be made on the grill.  I may or may not have suffered a little in the pride department, since cooking is kind of my thing around these parts...

We have a tiny bit of spontaneous Carey here.  Normally I plan things out to the nth degree.  I had planned to grocery shop for ingredients the next day.  But suddenly the rain that has pummeled us had stopped... and I was fixing Pioneer Woman Grilled Cheese sandwiches for dinner... and I decided to mix things up a bit and grill them... so I threw a tablecloth on our patio table and quickly set some things up.  Threw caution to the wind and went for it.

Here is my big learning.  To Thine Own Self Be True.  I know about myself that I cannot perform under pressure.  There are people who do - who thrive with it.  I, however, am most decidedly not one of them.  I also know that I cannot be creative or think when I'm rushed.  At all.  So I know those things about myself.  And I knew them going in.  Have long known and accepted these things about myself.  I should have prepared for this.  But having three starving wolves staring me down as I was batting them off the table so I could photograph their dinner before they ate it --- that resulted in less than stellar results on my part.

I just throw in the towel at this point of the game.  I get so flustered that I just can't do it.  So next time... feed them first, and then set up your table to photograph.  That's my big learning.  I just couldn't access that part of my brain and felt myself losing my temper, so I let it go.  No creative angles.  Mistakes.  But still, I learned.  And that is really the overall goal of these challenges, is it not? : )

Here are the wolves...
On the Grill, food photography, grilled cheese, food styling

On the Grill, food photography, grilled cheese, food styling

On the Grill, food photography, grilled cheese, food styling

On the Grill, food photography

On the Grill, food photography, grilled cheese, food styling

I made Pioneer Woman's Favorite Sandwich, on the grill, with our own home grown tomatoes and using clarified butter on the bread (but I ridiculously forgot the red onion! oops! that's what I get for doing the recipe from memory and not liking onion, myself).  We had Homemade Pesto Pasta with it (I love summer with fresh basil aplenty).  And we had sweet tea or this delish Cucumber Lemonade Mocktail I found in Food & Wine's latest magazine, using own our home grown cucumbers and dill.  I still prefer my own homemade Italian Sodas, but this was a fun summertime treat!

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Do take a spin around our group... even if they don't live in the South... and see what they grilled up this month!  Next up:  Kay Pickens | Columbia MO Photographer 

I shot these with my D90 Sigma 30mm f1.4